Xi dropped missiles in Japan’s EEZ during drills in Taiwan: sources

Chinese President Xi Jinping himself decided to drop military-launched ballistic missiles in Japan’s exclusive economic zone during recent large-scale exercises near Taiwan to deter Tokyo’s interference in any eventuality through the strait, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Xi, who heads the Central Military Commission, the country’s armed forces’ highest decision-making body, scrapped a plan to avoid conducting drills last week in waters straddling Japan’s EEZ to make training in six areas surrounding Taiwan more combat-oriented, the sources said.

The large-scale drills began Aug. 4 as part of China’s fierce response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit early last week to the self-governing island, which Beijing sees as a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Five of the 11 Chinese ballistic missiles launched that day fell into Japan’s EEZ, sparking a protest from Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Regarding the exercise areas, the military submitted two plans to Xi, one covering the Japanese EEZ south of a remote island in Okinawa Prefecture and the other avoiding the waters so as not to not harm bilateral relations before the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations. late September, the sources said.

One of the sources said Xi adopted the plan covering Japan’s EEZ to warn the Kishida administration against deepening Tokyo’s involvement in the Taiwan Strait by strengthening its security alliance with the United States. .

Xi also preferred the drills to be conducted in waters straddling Japan’s EEZ, as a military blockade of sea areas near the Nansei Islands, a chain that includes Okinawa and stretches southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan, would be unavoidable. in the event of a real operation to take control. of the island, the sources said.

The Chinese military assumes that US forces will send ships and fighter jets from its bases in Okinawa and other parts of Japan to support Taiwan if Beijing launches an operation to seize the 24 million island. democratically governed.

The latest exercises near Taiwan were conducted in a scenario in which the Chinese military would deny access to US forces by launching ballistic missiles and carry out landing operations after taking control of airspace and waters. surrounding the island.

Last October, Xi and Kishida agreed to seek “constructive and stable” relations ahead of the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations in their first phone talks since the Japanese leader took office.

However, bilateral relations quickly deteriorated amid rising tensions across the strait.

To protest Japan’s criticism of China along with the United States and other Group of Seven members for increasing military pressure on Taiwan after Pelosi’s visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi abruptly canceled his meeting scheduled for August 4 with his Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi in Phnom Penh.

The following day, Wang stepped out with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov when Hayashi addressed a regional ministerial meeting held in the Cambodian capital.

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